Cypriot President says EU members' equality must be safeguarded
by Maria Myles
Rome, Oct 4 (CNA) - The principles of equality and effective participation of all member states in the European Union must be safeguarded during the examination of a draft constitutional treaty on an enlarged Europe, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here today.
In his address at the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which will examine the draft constitutional treaty prepared by the Convention on the Future of Europe, the President said that Cyprus will be an active participant in this effort and will contribute in a constructive manner towards finding a consensus in the task ahead.
President Papadopoulos also said that the timetable set to conclude the Treaty (end of December) should be observed but pointed out that European citizens must have adequate time to be informed about its contents.
He stressed that an attempt should be made to maintain the balance of the draft treaty.
''We believe that some fundamental principles which are the cornerstone of the EU should not only be maintained but also strengthened'', the President said, explaining that these relate to the principle of equality and effective participation of all member states in the work of the Union as well as to the safeguarding and strengthening of the Community Method.
He said the existing system of representation in the European Parliament should be maintained so that small countries such as Cyprus do not miss out on the number of their deputies at the Parliament.
Should the number of their representatives be reduced, he explained, it would render more difficult the representation of each country's political forces.
On the composition of the Commission, he said the principle of one commissioner per member state must be maintained.
The President said he agreed with the agenda of topics to be examined the heads of state or government have concluded on but said other issues must be looked into.
He referred to the competencies and the role of the President of the Council and the representative for external relations, the rotating presidency of the Council and the weighted vote system.
''We look forward to our active participation in a joint effort to reach final solutions in matters which lay before us and to our constructive contribution to the substantive and in depth exchange of views which will lead us to the desired result'', President Papadopoulos said.
He described the draft treaty ''a good basis for the start of the IGC and one that covers all the aspects of action by the EU'', adding that the work done so far is important and encompasses the vision of the future Europe.
''Consequently, we should try to maintain the main balance of this draft. It is important that the final text of the treaty is agreed in good time so that European citizens are informed in an appropriate manner before the June elections for the European Parliament, next year'', the President added.
Concluding, he advocated hard work to reach consensus on the best possible outcome of the final text and pointed to the importance of keeping within the timetable set out, without affecting the quality of the discussions or the end product.